Graphic Novel Review: The Fifth Quarter by Mike Dawson

The Fifth Quarter by Mike Dawson. First Second, 2021. 9781250244185. 240pp. 9781250244185.

Lori is a fourth grader, and she loves playing basketball. She’s on her school team but isn’t a great player, so she only gets put in during the fifth quarter at games, when they give the kids lacking in skills a chance to play each other. But after she makes a basket, she starts to get the sense that she might be able to make the fifth grade team and play in a real game. This causes some problems for her with her friends — she doesn’t want to play unicorns at recess, and she always seems to say the wrong thing (she is kind of a jerk). And her life is made more difficult because her mom is running for city council against one of her friend’s dads. As she starts to put in the time and effort to improve her skills on the court, will Lori be able to figure out how to be a better friend?

This would be a great read fo kids worried about not being good enough at something, and who are having trouble with friends they were once closer to, but the action and competitiveness and the theme of picking oneself up after a loss will appeal to most young readers. An excellent sequel, The Fifth Quarter: Hard Court, was published in 2022. Recommended for any library that has patrons in grade school, whether they’re basketball obsessed or not.


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